Scotland's Rural College (SRUC)
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Mapping Scottish Landownership (Research Briefing)

posted on 2024-04-30, 08:24 authored by Simon Gibson-Poole, Ian MerrellIan Merrell, Bryony NelsonBryony Nelson, James Glendinning, Steven ThomsonSteven Thomson, Ignacio SepulvedaIgnacio Sepulveda

What were we trying to find out? 

We developed a methodology to determine if there is a relationship between landownership and, firstly, land use decisions (a land use change, continuation on the same path, diversification etc.), and secondly, monetary flows into land, and whether either of these are affected by a recent sale (i.e. a sale triggers a change of land use or a change of monetary flows). This is a multi-year process which is ongoing. In this research briefing we present our work to date, which includes a working example of an area of the Spey Catchment.  

What did we do? 

We utilised multiple data sources to compile a map representing land ownership, recent sales, monetary flows and land use/land cover. This was a complicated task, with a new method created to aid and partly automate this process. The main data set utilised to map land transactions was purchased from the Registers of Scotland (RoS) which proved very hard to work with due to multiple inconsistencies at the data entry stage. Land ownership was mapped primarily with purchased Who Owns Scotland data. Land use/cover was mapped using a suite of different data sources. When the process was refined, it was applied to a small case study.  

Parallel to the mapping work, a landownership typology was created. This is a seven-fold typology that categorises individual parcels of land according to size, ownership, land use, type (farm/forest/estate), size descriptor and any defining characteristics. The ownership typology was then applied to the case study area. Multiple data sources were used to map monetary flows. 

What did we learn? 

Spatially mapping landownership and recent sale transactions of land is complex and arduous. Despite these issues, we still managed to create a working methodology for mapping landownership using RoS data, and successfully integrated this with multiple other data sources. Through this process we have developed a tool that is (once the landownership level is complete) fully automated and can produce useful maps and descriptors of any piece of land in Scotland, so long as ownership is known.  

What do we recommend and what happens next? 

In the coming years of the project this mapping exercise will be applied to four case study areas across Scotland (Tweed Catchment, Spey Catchment, Shetland Islands, and Galloway and South Ayrshire Biosphere Reserve). The case study presented in this Research Briefing is static in time, but we also intend to map these areas over multiple historic years to track patterns in landownership, land use change and monetary flows into land.  


Scottish Government (RESAS)


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